TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan says his officers were ambushed this weekend, when they responded to a call of a shooting near 15th Street and 26th Avenue.
Dugan said when his officers arrived early Saturday morning, they did not locate a shooting victim. Instead, they encountered people throwing glass bottles at them.
What You Need To Know
- One of the officers taken to hospital for treatment
- No shooting victim was ever found
- Tampa officers injured in another incident Monday morning
- More Hillsborough County stories
“We’re in a tough spot right now. And I feel for the cops. The pressure that our police officers are under right now is incredible,” said Dugan during a news conference on Monday.
Dugan said the crowd of several hundred people blocked all four intersections and some jumped on a police car. More than 100 officers responded.
He described the situation as an ambush and said he believes the report of a shooting was a set-up to get police officers to go to that location.
Two officers were injured and one of them was taken to the hospital for treatment.
"Nobody has our backs right now"
"I’m very concerned, you never know when a crowd is going to turn on you. There’s an element out there that our officers have never had to deal with,” said Dugan.
Early Monday morning, two other officers were injured when responding to a report of items being stolen at the 7-Eleven at Hillsborough and Nebraska Avenues. Dugan said when Officer Charles Bourne was trying to take the suspect into custody, that person tried to take his gun and hit him in the face. Another officer was also injured.
All of the officers involved are OK. Dugan took the opportunity Monday for support from the community.
“We always have everyone’s back. Nobody has ours right now and that’s what I think is missing here. Cops, we always step up,” he said.
"Where do we draw the line?"
He also spoke about the demonstrations that have been taking place around the city. He says the crowd early Saturday appeared to be a block party rather than a demonstration.
“If we’re allowing them to take over the streets of downtown Tampa to exercise their first amendment rights, we’re allowing them to march through Hyde Park, where do we draw the line? One is a demonstration and one is a block party? This is the dilemma we’re in,” said Dugan.
In addition, he said residents have complained about some protests blocking intersections and slowing down traffic. He says some protesters have questioned why officers aren’t escorting them anymore.
“If we show up to people who are just merely exercising their first amendment rights, it turns into a clash and the police are the bad guys,” he said. “We’re in a tough spot. No matter what we do, it feels like we can’t win."
Finally, Dugan called on residents to let civic leaders know they want law and order.
"So I need the good people to step up. If you’re sitting in traffic and it's being blocked, you need to step up and complain. We’ve got to have law and order in this town and we need people to decide what’s going to be prosecuted, what’s not going to be prosecuted and what’s acceptable."